Building leadership skills problem solving and decision making
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Building Leadership Skills: Problem-Solving and Decision-Making. An Infopeople Workshop Presented by Joan Frye Williams Not All Decisions Require Equal Attention. Decision Insurance. Define the problem Gather additional data Lay it all out Identify your options

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Building leadership skills problem solving and decision making

Building Leadership Skills:Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

An Infopeople Workshop

Presented by Joan Frye Williams

Not all decisions require equal attention

Not All Decisions Require Equal Attention

Decision insurance

Decision Insurance

  • Define the problem

  • Gather additional data

  • Lay it all out

  • Identify your options

  • Evaluate your options

  • Make your decision

  • Move forward

Step 1 define the problem

Step #1:Define the Problem

  • What?

  • Where?

  • How?

  • When?

  • With whom?

  • Why?

For a complex problem

For a Complex Problem

  • Break it down

  • Verify with others

  • Prioritize

Describe the desired outcome s

Describe the Desired Outcome(s)

Define the solved state:

Here’s what should be happening…

Identify specific measurable goals

Identify Specific, Measurable Goals

What are we trying to

  • Achieve?

  • Preserve?

  • Avoid?

  • Eliminate?

Link back to the big picture

Link Back to the Big Picture

Make sure your desired outcomes align clearly with the library’s mission and strategic plan

Reality check decision politics

Reality Check:Decision Politics

  • Who are the stakeholders in this situation?

  • What will they need to get out of any decision?

  • How and when should they participate in finding a solution?

Step 2 gather additional data

Step #2:Gather Additional Data

  • Broad

  • Objective

  • Verifiable

  • Relevant



  • Hearsay/rumor

  • Opinion

  • Wishful thinking

  • Labeling the problem

  • Blaming/scapegoating

  • Vivid but minor evidence

Look outside the library as well as in

Look Outside the Library as Well as In

Don t overlook

Don’t Overlook

  • Your own beliefs and biases

  • Your own (possible) role in the situation

How much information is enough

How Much Information Is Enough?

Just be sure you cover the bases

Just Be Sure YouCover the Bases

  • Bouncing around is natural

  • More information may accrue over time

Step 3 lay it all out

Step #3:Lay It All Out

Pareto analysis

Pareto Analysis

  • “80/20 rule”

  • Focus on numerical data

  • Use to identify

    which situations are most common

Mind mapping

Mind Mapping

  • Free-form note taking

  • Any kind of information

  • Use to show how different facts relate to the problem

    and to each other

Look into causes but don t bog down

Look into Causes but Don’t Bog Down

  • Not all problems are “caused”

  • Not all causes can be corrected

    Ask for input – one person at a time.

The un problem appreciative inquiry

The Un-Problem:Appreciative Inquiry

  • Systematic discovery of the best in people and organizations

  • Unconditional positive questions

  • Directed conversation and storytelling

  • What is working well?

  • How can we do more of that?

Step 4 identify your options

Step #4:Identify Your Options

  • What options do we have?

  • What has been done in other libraries?

  • In other disciplines?

  • How about something new?

Situation something s gone wrong

Situation:Something’s Gone Wrong

  • Find and correct the changes that account for the fall-off in results.

Situation increased or changing expectations

Situation:Increased – or Changing – Expectations

  • Find new ways of operating.

Situation the double whammy

Situation:The Double Whammy

  • Find ways to reengineer the system – correct and invent.

Situation it never did work right

Situation:It Never Did Work Right

  • Find ways to overhaul – or completely rebuild.

Things that can limit your thinking

Things That Can Limit Your Thinking

  • Searching for THE ONE RIGHT ANSWER

  • Not involving front line people

  • Looking inside the library only

  • Waiting for 100% agreement

  • Fear of embarrassment or failure

Be sure to include

Be Sure to Include

  • Current approach

  • Something new

  • Something fun

Step 5 evaluate your options

Step #5:Evaluate Your Options

Check sheet

Check Sheet

Swot strengths weaknesses opportunities threats pmi plus minus interesting

SWOT: Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – ThreatsPMI:Plus – Minus - Interesting

Six thinking hats

Six Thinking Hats

Think through risks and consequences

Think Through Risks and Consequences

  • Reversible?

  • Pilot-able?

  • Timely?

  • Politically sensitive?

Special challenges in many library environments

Special Challenges in Many Library Environments

  • Perfectionism

  • Catastrophizing

  • Mixed feelings about success

Step 6 make your decision

Step #6:Make Your Decision

Reality check strategic thinking

Reality Check:Strategic Thinking

  • How might this decision change the library’s position or reputation?

  • Will it set the stage or define a pattern for future decisions?

  • Do library stakeholders need a heads-up?

  • Who will get credit if things turn out well?

Take time to write a brief summary of your process

Take Time to Write a Brief Summary of Your Process

Step 7 move forward

Step #7:Move Forward

  • Communicate the decision/solution

  • Plan the implementation

  • Monitor results

  • Learn as you go

When things go wrong

When Things Go Wrong

  • Work each problem

  • Re-prioritize if necessary

  • Maintain focus on desired outcomes

  • After a fair trial, change options

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